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The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 came into force on 31 July 2019 and creates a new legal status of Guardian of the affairs of a missing person, allowing someone to act in their best interests after they have been missing for 90 days or more. The act is informally known as Claudia’s Law, as former solicitor Peter Lawrence campaigned for a change after his daughter’s disappearance in 2009. Every year approximately 180,000 people are reported missing and whilst a large majority are found within days or weeks some families are faced with the prospect of months if not years of uncertainty and distress. The new Act aims to reduce some of the distress by providing legal authority to deal with a missing person’s property and financial affairs.
You can apply to the High Court t for a Guardianship Order which will allow you to manage the finances or property of someone who:
- is missing
- is in prison abroad and cannot communicate
- has been taken hostage or kidnapped
The person must be missing from home and their usual activities.
One of the following must also apply:
- you do not know where they are
- they cannot contact you to let you know their decisions
You can apply when the person has been missing for the previous 90 days. You can apply earlier if it’s urgent, for example the person’s house is being repossessed.
The Office of the Public Guardian will supervise you while you are acting as a guardian and you are required to report to them when requested.
We can support both lay clients and other professionals in dealing with Guardianship Orders and are members of the Office of the Public Guardian’s Panel of Professional Guardians.